You want your pet snake to be happy.
That is only natural.
Every pet owner wants their pet to live a happy and healthy life.
Well, every good pet owner.
With some pets, like dogs, it is easy to tell when they are happy and when they are depressed.
With other, like snakes, it is not so simple.
Snakes do not exhibit any emotions to give away how they feel. In fact, many people actually believe that snakes don’t fee any emotions at all.
But that is not entirely true. Snakes can be happy.
Keep reading to learn how to tell if a snake is happy. We’ll give you 14 signs to look for that indicate your snake enjoys living with you. We’ll also give you some tips on bonding with your pet snake.
Table of Contents
- 1 How To Tell If A Snake Is Happy
- 1.1 Eats And Drinks Normally
- 1.2 Produces Normal Bowel Movements
- 1.3 Has A Healthy Weight
- 1.4 Shows A Calm Demeanor
- 1.5 Won’t Hiss Or Strike
- 1.6 Might Casually Flick Its Tongue (Air Tasting)
- 1.7 Gently Grips You
- 1.8 Has Clear Eyes
- 1.9 Does Not Try To Escape
- 1.10 Loves Its Enclosure And Gladly Explores It
- 1.11 Shows Consistent Temperament
- 1.12 Exhibits Normal Shedding
- 1.13 Coils Up
- 1.14 Sleeps In A Relaxed Manner
- 2 How To Tell If A Snake Likes You
- 3 What Do Snakes Like To Play With?
- 4 Can Snakes Get Bored?
- 5 How Do You Bond With Your Pet Snake?
- 6 Determining If A Snake Is Happy: Final Thoughts
How To Tell If A Snake Is Happy
You can tell if your pet snake is happy based on its body language, appetite, movement, and appearance. A happy snake will eat and drink normally.
It will also have a healthy body weight, clear eyes, and regular bowel movements. It will move slowly and calmly without hissing or striking. It might calmly drape itself around your hand when you handle it.
Let’s take a closer look at the main signs that your snake is happy, healthy, and content.
Eats And Drinks Normally
A happy snake will have a healthy appetite. On the other hand, an unhealthy or stressed snake might refuse food continuously.
Please note that a lack of appetite could sometimes indicate shedding as well, so watch out for that.
Most adult snakes eat once every 5-7 days although the quantity and frequency of feeding mainly depend on your pet’s species, age, and size.
If your snake approaches the tank walls every time it sees you or comes over to the feeding area and hungrily laps up the food you offer, then it has a healthy appetite, which indicates that it is happy and relaxed as well.
Snakes usually feel vulnerable while they eat and many refuse to eat in the presence of their owners. But if your snake takes the food from you and readily swallows it, then it trusts you, likes you, and is clearly relaxed and happy.
Produces Normal Bowel Movements
A stressed or unhappy snake will not eat. Consequently, it might have fewer bowel movements, or none at all.
How often a snake poops depends on the species. Most snakes defecate every 3 to 4 days, although some like rat snakes tend to have a bowel movement every 2 days.
Ball Pythons typically poop every 5 days. This might seem like a long time, but it is completely normal, since snakes take a long time to digest their food.
If your snake eats regularly, then it will also poop regularly. If your snake is unhappy and not eating, then it will also poop infrequently.
Has A Healthy Weight
A healthy snake will have an optimum weight. Since your pet is eating well, it is not losing weight.
Weight is one of the major indications of your snake’s well-being. An abnormal weight loss, or even an abnormal weight gain, is indicative of health issues. For that reason, you should always keep an eye on your pet’s weight.
Shows A Calm Demeanor
A happy snake is calm and collected. It won’t strike aggressively. Aggression is a sign of stress in snakes.
A happy snake will move slowly and calmly and not show hurried or frenzied movements. It will even slither up to the enclosure to greet you when you enter the room. It might also explore its surroundings instead of staying hidden as a stressed snake would.
A stressed snake is more likely to move frantically and might even rub its face or nose against objects provided in the enclosure.
Won’t Hiss Or Strike
A snake usually hisses or strikes as a warning, when it feels threatened or stressed. A happy snake won’t have a reason to show such aggression.
If your snake is hissing or striking continuously, it is best not to handle it, because it may be feeling uncomfortable. It is best to return it to its tank.
A happy snake will love being handled and will calmly move on your hand without any display of aggressive behavior.
Might Casually Flick Its Tongue (Air Tasting)
Snakes use their tongues to seek information about their surroundings. This is known as air tasting and means that the snake tastes the surrounding air by flicking its tongue to get a better sense of its environment.
Only a happy and relaxed snake will show such curiosity. If you are handling your snake and it flicks its tongue, then it likely wants to find out more about you. This is another sign that it is relaxed, happy, calm, and curious about you.
Gently Grips You
Since snakes are cold-blooded creatures, they seek warmth and happily hang on to their humans to soak up their body heat.
A happy and relaxed snake will grip your hand, shoulder, or arms casually as a sign of trust. It is sure you won’t drop it and that makes it like you and trust you.
A happy snake will move slowly and calmly up your neck or arm without frenzied movements or attempts to get away.
Many species of snakes are quite affectionate and love human company. Being handled by humans makes them happy.
Has Clear Eyes
Snakes’ eyes are also an indication of their health and well-being. Their eyes get cloudy or bluish if they are stressed, defensive, or when they feel threatened.
Unclear eyes also indicate that a snake is sick or just about to shed. Most snakes regain eye clarity after they shed.
If your pet successfully sheds its skin but retains eye cloudiness, then it could be a sign of illness or environmental stress. It could also indicate that your snake is stressed or extra defensive.
A happy snake, on the other hand, will have clear and sharp eyes.
Does Not Try To Escape
A happy snake will be content in its enclosure. It won’t attempt to escape. Do note that some snakes might like to escape simply out of curiosity.
However, most snakes will give up the attempt to venture out of their terrarium or enclosure once they find out that there is no way out. But if there is even the slightest opening, you can be sure your snake escapes from its enclosure.
Loves Its Enclosure And Gladly Explores It
Snakes love having objects like rocks, hiding areas, branches, etc. in their enclosure or terrarium. A happy snake will gladly slither around these objects and entertain itself.
Remember to always keep changing things up in the enclosure. In the wild, snakes constantly find new things that keep them stimulated and happy.
In captivity, your snake depends on you to provide it with the entertainment it needs. You can easily add some driftwood pieces, toys, substrates with different textures, and other accessories to keep your pet happy.
A bare enclosure can bore your snake and make it unhappy. Adding some plants (fake or live) can help prevent boredom and make things more cheerful for your pet. Just make sure to check with your vet which plants are safe for your slithery friend.
Shows Consistent Temperament
A happy snake will have a consistent mood and temperament. According to experts, snakes are very much capable of showing basic emotions like fear, aggression, pleasure, etc.
A happy snake will not hiss or hide or show aggression one moment and pleasure at being handled the next. It will display a stable and steady mood.
However, if it is about to shed, then it might become slightly lethargic and might stop feeding. It might even hide. This is normal. Your snake should be back to its active and happy self after the shedding is over.
Exhibits Normal Shedding
Many snake species shed 4 to 12 times a year. Younger snakes shed more frequently as they grow. A happy and healthy snake will have regular shedding.
Too much shedding in snakes is also indicative of stress, malnutrition, or improper humidity levels. Snakes also shed frequently to remove bacteria or parasites from the skin. Always check with your vet as to what constitutes healthy and unhealthy shedding for your species.
Snakes coil up when they are relaxed and happy. An uncoiled snake, on the other hand, may be defensive because it is ready to strike or feels threatened.
Coiling indicates that a snake is happy, relaxed, calm, and comfortable.
Sleeps In A Relaxed Manner
A happy and relaxed snake will follow normal sleeping patterns. Snakes are either nocturnal or diurnal and sleep accordingly. A sleeping snake won’t flick its tongue, nor will it react when you walk near its enclosure. A sleeping snake will simply lay still without moving.
Only when a snake is happy, calm, and relaxed will it sleep. If a snake is stressed or unhappy it might remain alert and not sleep, which can further exacerbate its stress.
How To Tell If A Snake Likes You
A snake that likes you might show the following signs:
- It will move slowly and calmly instead of making hurried or frenzied movements.
- A snake that likes you will also coil around branches or gently grip your arm or neck when being handled.
- It will eat in your presence instead of hiding.
- It won’t hiss or strike or show aggression.
What Do Snakes Like To Play With?
Snakes make excellent pets, but unlike dogs and cats, they don’t need conventional toys like balls and frisbees. Most snakes enjoy things like branches and caves in their enclosures.
Snakes love coiling around branches, logs, and poles and they also need areas to rest. A curious snake will love exploring its enclosure, so adding pieces of driftwood or rocks etc. can help. An enclosure with plenty of safe plants can also get your snake moving around.
Some species of snakes enjoy swimming, so adding a water bath for them to soak and splash in can help them get adequate exercise.
Can Snakes Get Bored?
Yes, it is possible for a captive snake to get bored and even depressed. In the wild, a snakehas no time to get bored, since it has to forage for food and constantly move in search of prey.
Since most of your snake’s basic needs are met in captivity, it could get bored, if you do not provide it with mental stimulation.
That is why your snake needs regular playtime. Try playing with its food, and perhaps provide it with live food from time to time so it can get the feel of hunting.
You can also arrange and re-arrange its enclosure and keep adding new (safe) objects for it to curiously explore.
How Do You Bond With Your Pet Snake?
When bonding with a new snake, please take the following steps.
- Don’t rush into it: let your new snake settle down and adjust to its new surroundings.
- Know when to stay away: if your snake shows signs of aggression, like hissing or striking, then stay away from it and try again after 3-4 days.
- Allow your snake to get used to your presence: do so by feeding it (playing and jerking its food around if feeding frozen food) and gently arranging and rearranging its habitat, to will help your snake adjust to your presence.
- Let your snake sniff your hand from 3-4 inches away: it might flick its tongue to air taste so it can memorize your scent; if your snake bites, wear protective gloves.
- Never grab it by its tail: that could make it even more aggressive.
Determining If A Snake Is Happy: Final Thoughts
If you want to know if your snake is happy living with you, look for the 14 indicators we listed above. If you snake is showing those signs, you can be sure it is happy.
If it turns out your snake is not happy, it is probably missing something it needs. Make sure it is getting all the food and water it needs and that it has enough space in its enclosure, as well as a nice hiding spot and plenty of features to keep it entertained.
You also want to make sure there is nothing in the environment that is causing it to feel stressed. This can be anything like the wrong temperature or humidity, or loud noises, or too much commotion around its enclosure.
If you can’t figure out why your snake is not happy, it is probably best to consult with a vet.